No Vacancy

DSCN1322

We had a new experience on this trip to Kitsap Memorial Park–the hiker/biker sites were full! It is a large park, so we remained calm that we would find a solution. Ella and John went to the playground while I discussed our options with the ranger. Our choices were to 1) just set up camp near one of the hiker/biker sites – if it was just the two of us, we could probably pull that off, but can you imagine riding a bike, securing a campsite, and then being invaded by a family with a 2-year-old? I just couldn’t do it. 2) the decommissioned dump station – Yuck! 3) the amphitheater. I quickly checked out the amphitheater and claimed it.

DSCN1344

Short path to amphitheater

DSCN1335

Plenty of room to unpack

The amphitheater sounded like a weird idea, but it ended up being so great. We found a nice flat grassy spot for the tent. There was no picnic table, but all the benches provided us with an abundance of surfaces. They also made for an easy place to prop up the bikes. The private space also made us so much less anxious about our kid being loud in the middle of the night (or wee hours of the morning), and also no loud neighbors to bother us. The whole nighttime experience went way better this trip, and I’m sure we owe a lot to just being more relaxed about the whole noise thing.

40655337_10156921088413598_9029168459136630784_n

Our jumbo campsite!

The camp stove first started making the trip with the sole purpose of making coffee. We began using it more as we prepared for our week-long peninsula trip. Now it’s time to get back to basics and bring a prepared dinner and breakfast. We knew there was a coffee stand within walking distance, so we left the stove and gas at home to save a little space. I think that went well, but it was a chilly morning. Warm oatmeal would have a been a good breakfast for Ella. I keep saying I need to bring hand warmers in our camping gear, but I never do.

DSCN1317

DSCN1338

DSCN1339

The traffic on SR 104 was particularly stressful on Sunday so John and I took the opportunity to finally stop at Downpour Brewing. I’ve always wanted to check it out, but we are usually rushing to a ferry either by bike or car. The beer and the atmosphere were great, and it was a nice break for our nerves. Ella was picked up by her grandparents in Port Gamble, but there was a great space for her to play next time we stop in. We arrived home around 3 pm, did some chores and had a date night.

DSCN1352

DSCN1353

What we did right: John made burritos at home to pack for dinner and wrapped up banana bread for breakfast. It was so much easier to grab food that was ready to eat.

What we could do better: It’s tough rolling out early Saturday morning, even without a kiddo, but now we have some new motivation to claim those hiker/biker sites early. This time it really worked out for the best, but we might not be so lucky at other parks.  

What I wish I brought: Gloves and/or handwarmers. It was in the 40s Sunday morning. We had hats and coats, but everyone’s fingers were cold until we finally got that coffee.

DSCN1327

DSCN1332

DSCN1350

 

Advertisements

First Family Overnight

Destination: Fay Bainbridge Park, Bainbridge Island, WA

Total Miles: 35 miles

Total Time: 28 hours 9:30 am Saturday to 1:30 pm Sunday

The much anticipated first bike camping trip is complete! It was mostly great, with a couple of rough spots, but overall we all had fun. The part that was the worst was trying to sleep in a tent with a toddler. I know this is not shocking news, but when the whole family is tired and uncomfortable, it is hours of total misery. We got through it, and we were laughing it off soon enough.

DSCN1193DSCN1194

DSCN1216

I’ve heard of people sawing off the shield from the Yepp bike seat legs. It would give us more space to pack, and her feet aren’t anywhere near the spokes with this setup.

The Destination

Fay Bainbridge Park is less than a 20 mile ride with safe roads and a built-in break on the ferry. On the Seattle side, the route was almost totally separated bike trail. On the Bainbridge side, we stayed on 305 as much as possible because there is a wide shoulder.

The distance and the route were great options for our first tour with the Big Dummy, an extra person, and the extra stuff needed for an extra person. We tried not to load the cargo bike too heavy, unsure of how it would handle the island hills. As usual, John made it look easy, and we were proud of how organized we looked. My panniers were bursting open on the trip out, but I was able to rearrange them for the trip back home.

We have been to this campground before and thought the playground and beach were important for a camping toddler. She has to sit still while we are working hard, so there needs to be somewhere she can run around while we sit and watch. I reserved a campsite in the upper loop. All the lower beach area sites have hookups and it was full of trailers and RVs as expected. I thought the upper area would be quieter for us.

DSCN1226

DSCN1244

The Bike Tour

We departed on time Saturday morning from drizzly Seattle, and we were greeted with sunshine on Bainbridge Island. Last time we rode here, we turned right on NE Day Rd, and all I remember is that I never wanted to ride that road again. So this time we tried going farther north up to Hidden Cove Rd, which worked out better.

DSCN1201

DSCN1205

Ran into some cruise ship traffic downtown.

DSCN1217

Bikes can get off the ferry first, but sometimes it is less stressful to wait to go last so you don’t have a whole boat load of cars passing you on that first hill.

DSCN1219

Roomy shoulders on 305.

Our food planning worked well, but I could have used a snack on the ferry and/or an extra turkey sandwich for Saturday lunch. Dinner was tortellini, salami, and broccoli. Breakfast was instant oatmeal, blueberries, and English muffins with peanut butter. We brought all of Ella’s favorite snacks, but we should have packed more snacks for us too. We stuck to one bottle of wine, which was just right.

We had some new gear with us for this trip. We needed the big tent, which doesn’t fit in the Ortlieb panniers, but slid right into the bags that came with the Big Dummy. We got lucky having 2 perfect trees for the hammock, but it packs small enough I think it will be a staple for all future trips. I got a new lightweight backpacking chair just for this trip so Ella would have a place to sit that is more comfy than a picnic bench. It wasn’t the slam dunk I thought it would be, but it’s still coming on future trips. We also carried a bunch of kid stuff including a sound machine, crab pillow, Elmo cup, crayons and coloring book, and we even managed to keep the milk cold.  

DSCN1247

The Campground

I do not recommend staying in sites 30-35 at this park. We moved the tent 2 times in search of the flattest area, and we still were not happy with the slope. There was no point in trying to move the picnic table. The whole place was sloped and uncomfortable. We found some nice spots elsewhere in the park to cook dinner and breakfast. But our own picnic table was practically unusable for grownups, definitely unusable for a two-year-old. The chair worked ok for me because my legs hit the ground, but Ella couldn’t sit in it without it tipping over.

DSCN1233

It did not appear that anybody in the upper area had a flat spot. I’m sure that contributed to the bickering couples, parents yelling at kids, and quite a few babies crying in the middle of the night. We should have done some things differently for our whole nighttime routine, but the sloped tent made the slippery camp gear and squirmy toddler that much more uncomfortable.

DSCN1237

Carried our meals to other spots in the park.

This park has dedicated hiker/biker sites, but I wanted a reservation. The biker sites are down on the beach, and they were really popular Saturday night. They were nice and flat, but not private at all. I was not expecting nightime to go well, so I was also too self-conscious to stay somewhere with people packed in closer together. Use the park map to find the best fit for you. 

DSCN1246

Camping with a Toddler

Looking back, this actually went pretty well, and there wasn’t even that much crying. Not too long after we arrived, Ella took a 2 hour nap in the tent by herself, so I guess we got overconfident. We had a really awesome day, and it was hard for her to wind down. We all hopped in the tent around 9, almost 2 hours past her normal bedtime. Sunset was around 9:15 pm, and it took even longer to get really dark. The tent was just too exciting, and she just wanted to walk around and climb all over us. Sunrise was at 5:15 so Ella was awake by 6. I can’t imagine saying “please whisper” more than I did during that 9-hour period. That was, of course, when I wasn’t yelling “sit down”.

DSCN1248

Reluctantly relied on the iPhone to keep her busy while we packed up camp.

DSCN1224

The morning walk on the beach was a little earlier than I would have liked, but I was rewarded with wildlife. We watched a bald eagle catch some prey in the water, bring it to shore, then eventually back into its nest. We were all cranky, and it started to show as we were packing up. On the way to ferry I reminded myself that last time John and I did this trip we had to stop at McDonald’s, and this whole adventure was actually pretty successful.

DSCN1231

We arrived at the ferry terminal with a 30-minute wait. John and I could finally relax knowing the hardest part of the bike ride was behind us, and we loosened up a bit. The ride home was lovely with lots of sunshine and no traffic. Ella fell asleep a mile from home, and then she took a solid nap in her own bedroom while we cracked open a well-deserved beer in the backyard.


What I wish I brought: Ella needs her own sleeping bag, and we were just plain wrong to assume she would sleep next to us under a blanket. For the first time ever, I didn’t bring any games because we never used them before, but a deck of cards sure would have been nice during naptime.

What we packed and didn’t use: We didn’t use the headlamps or lantern because it was Solstice weekend, and the days are quite long in Western Washington. It was a bummer that the sound machine ran out of batteries within 30 minutes of bedtime, but it worked great for afternoon nap.

Can’t live without: Chair and hammock

What’s next: Car camping to figure out a better sleep strategy

DSCN1225

DSCN1214DSCN1206DSCN1255

Date Night at Fort Flagler

Like I mentioned in the last post, our life changes have made bike touring different. We had babysitters in Port Townsend (aka grandparents), so we adapted. Instead of beginning the adventure from our driveway, we began from someone else’s, but we took the opportunity to go somewhere new. Fort Flagler was 20 miles away, the perfect distance for the first overnight of the season.

IMG_0198

New toy: bike rack

The bags felt empty, but we are all about practice, so we loaded up the front and rear panniers with 24-hours worth of supplies. We stopped at Finn River for some cider. They didn’t fill growlers, but luckily we passed The Keg and I, who were more accommodating. We bought some groceries from QFC in Chimicum for dinner and breakfast.

DSCN1123

DSCN1128

DSCN1133

Best name ever

The ride was a nice rolling island ride: not too easy, but no killer hills this time.

DSCN1139

DSCN1141

We rolled into a full campground with no reservations and got an amazing hiker/biker campsite up in the forest loop. Awesome view of the sunset over the bay.

DSCN1175

DSCN1143

DSCN1147

There is a store located on the lower beach loop where you can buy firewood, snacks, and beverages.

DSCN1152

DSCN1148

The tent was farther from the table than it looks. The whole site was really roomy and nice.

This was our date night! The campsite was fun, the weather was comfortable, and the rest of the park was a short walk away. We overdid it a little bit, no thanks to the store. We were asleep before 10, bellies full of wine, and no toddler to wake us up. Reveille played at 8 am, followed shortly by the Star Spangled Banner, both coming from the Indian Island Naval Magazine across the bay.

DSCN1151

DSCN1159

Copied the tortellini and prosciutto dinner from the Kitsap Memorial trip

The ride back home was pretty straightforward, just a stop at the QFC parking lot to eat a snack we already had with us. We saw more bikers on Day 2, but only one group of loaded up tourers.

DSCN1171

Obligatory coffee on the beach photo. We ran into some deer on the beach and had to head back to the main campground.

DSCN1174

The first overnight tour in a few years was a total success! I know I was smiling ear to ear the whole time. I loved the ride, the park, and it just felt good to do an old hobby again. Now we have practiced, located all our gear, and we can start thinking about where to take the little one.

What I wish I brought: I had everything I needed for this trip, but we had lots of extra space. It would be great to get some sort of chair for trips like these.

What I wish we passed on: That second bottle of wine from the camp store was not a great idea. It was a date, and we were having so much fun, it is so hard to resist. Maybe one bottle of beer or a candy bar would have been a better choice. DSCN1173

 

Welcome Back

Reba On Tour has been on hiatus because in May 2016, a new member joined our cycling team! Technically, she was a part of the last bikepacking trip, and that was a big reason for the easier and shorter destination that time.

IMG_0195

Meet Ella!

 

Since spring 2017 we have taken her on the occasional commute to daycare or short trip to the park. I always assumed we would go on an overnight as soon as she was big enough for the Yepp Maxi, but Mom and Dad weren’t ready. Time is now more precious than ever, and we just didn’t have it together last summer to feel like we could be out on the road for more than a few miles at a time.

The warmer weather and increased daylight are telling is it’s touring season again, and we are really ready this year to branch out on some longer trips.

The first family journey was a route we had never taken before: the new SR 520 Bike Trail. Over the past few years, the world’s longest floating bridge was replaced by an even longer floating bridge. Part of the project was to add a multi-purpose trail. Prior to this trail, there was no sidewalk and bikes were not permitted on the road. Having driven this route to work for years, we were eager to try it out!

IMG_0189Good wayfinding

I was really impressed! The internet is full of criticism over every little shortcoming, but I just loved it! It was scenic and very comfortable. We rode east to Medina and had a picnic at the lid park. Ella ran around in a lush lawn, John ogled the Ferraris, and I soaked in the sunshine.

IMG_0194

View of the path looking west

IMG_0193

Check out the new ride – Surly Big Dummy

IMG_0190

Picnic at the park

On the way back home, we stopped by Fremont Brewing to toast our inaugural bike tour of 2018. At 15 miles it was a short ride, but a big accomplishment.

IMG_0196

IMG_0197

We weren’t the only ones who thought riding to the brewery was a good idea.

Rainy Night in Poulsbo

We have been generally lucky with weather on our bike trips. I attribute this to our diligence in checking forecasts from multiple sources and studying radar patterns. Alas, this is the Pacific Northwest, and sometimes you just cannot escape the rain. We set off on this overnight to Kitsap Memorial State Park armed with rain jackets and a tarp because a little drizzle doesn’t scare us.

The ride to the park was pretty unremarkable. I was a little wobbly at first, not having ridden my bike fully loaded in over a month. John, as usual, makes everything look easy. All the interesting stuff happened at the campground.

The Interurban Trail was deserted on another gorgeous Saturday.

DSCN0680

After the week-long tour, we both ceremoniously tossed our stinky gloves into the trash in Centralia. On that same day, something weird I still don’t understand caused my sunglasses to melt. Now I have some new purple sunglasses and purple gloves that match my purple shoes!

DSCN0687

I got another new toy too. This thermometer is from StemCAPtain. Now I can know exactly how cold it is when I complain about my fingers going numb.

DSCN0686

The view of the Olympics over Hood Canal from the beach at Kitsap Memorial State Park was beautiful.

DSCN0690

The campground in general was really great. The restrooms were the best I’ve seen.

DSCN0694

The three hiker-biker sites were separated from the main campground. They were quiet and roomy.

DSCN0697

Even though we brought a tarp, there were no good trees to use to tie it up. Instead we used the tie-downs to make sure the rain fly was nice and taught. Just in case.

While we were setting up camp, the University of Washington pep band was announcing the arrival of the newlyweds at a wedding reception in the nearby Log Hall.

For this fully self-supported trip, we packed the fanciest dinner yet! Tortellini, prosciutto, and basil from the garden. All on a table cloth! There were even s’mores for dessert.

DSCN0701

After dinner, a full round of Play 9, and the wedding DJ was done for the night, it was time for bed.

The rain started around 1:20. It didn’t just drizzle, it poured. The noise of the rain hitting the tent and the constant worry about a leak made for a sleepless night. It stopped early in the morning, but everything was wet.

After packing up the tent, we realized it worked pretty great at keeping us and our belongings dry. Maybe next time I will worry less and sleep better.

DSCN0718

Our picnic table was soaked. We ate breakfast in the covered pavilion. We usually identify the pavilions before we go to sleep in case we need to run to a dry spot in the middle of the night.

DSCN0716

The view wasn’t so clear Sunday morning, but the water was glassy smooth.

DSCN0713

On our way back to the campsite after pavilion breakfast, a lady gave us this bag of tomatoes. She lives nearby and usually gives them to the camp workers, but since they weren’t around, she gave them to us. In those 5 minutes we learned her whole life story about living on the peninsula for 16 years, her plantar fasciitis, and her mother in Redmond.

DSCN0717

This was an easy little trip. 15 miles to the ferry, a quick ferry ride, and 15 minutes on the other side. The park is right off the main road. No scary hills. The scenery from the road wasn’t that interesting, but the shoulders were generous, which makes for a fast ride. We were away from home for 25 hours. This easily could have been an S24O, especially without the rain.

DSCN0720

If you just need to get out, this is a great campground. There isn’t much else to do, so bring some games and marshmallows, and enjoy being outside!

DSCN0702

Week On Olympic Peninsula – Volume II

Have you read Volume I? In that post, I talk about the route, itinerary, and highlight some of the favorite spots. This is Volume II where I will get back to talking about bike camping, and what went right, and what I learned.

This was our longest tour to date, having been on mostly overnighters. I would say weekend tours are our specialty. Usually a weekend is all the time we can spend away from our full-time jobs. Weekend trips also provide lots of opportunities to try new gear, new routes, and any other new ideas we come up with.

We can handle two days and one night of bad weather, lousy food, and not sleeping. But seven days away from home meant we had to take a few things much more seriously than we usually do.

Continue reading

Week On Olympic Peninsula – Volume I

The epic week around Olympic Peninsula became a reality!

DSCN0479

July 2014, John and I finished our longest tour yet at 3 full days, and we started seriously talking about a week-long tour. The following weekend, our precious bikes were stolen from our condo garage while we were sleeping. The theft stalled our touring plans for the rest of the season. That’s why we were so eager to do some cold weather trips earlier this year.

Less than a year later we had new and upgraded bikes, a new house where we had better storage solutions, and a determination to literally get back in the saddle.

Most of the blogs, forums, and facebook pages I find are about tours that last week to months to even years, many of them international. When John and I decided to use our summer vacation to take a 1-week tour around the Olympic Peninsula, once again we felt like there was a lack of information about a mere 1-week trip. How much should we bring? How far can we expect to ride on consecutive days? The long distance tourers seem to do a lot more sight-seeing, travel less daily miles, and take frequent rest days (also laundry days). Here was the only information I found from someone doing a similar trip. Circling the Olympic Peninsula 2008. Skyler’s account gave me hope that our plans were totally possible.

DSCN0532

The Basics:
Around 400 miles in 7 days
Day 1: Seattle to Potlatch State Park – 50 miles
Day 2: Sequim Bay State Park – 70 miles
Day 3: Klahowya Campground – 60 miles
Day 4: Kalaloch Campground – 60 miles
Day 5: Lake Quinault Lodge – 40 miles
Day 6: Ocean City State Park – 45 miles
Day 7: Olympic Club Hotel in Centralia, WA – 80 miles
Day 8: AMTRAK back to Seattle
I’m not going to do a step-by-step trip log because we were almost always on the main road that one would use to drive to these locations (mostly US 101). If you happen to have a question about any specifics, feel free to ask in the comments section.
This blog post is to celebrate some of our favorite parts of the tour we’ve been dreaming about for a year.
The Highlights:
Lake Crescent
I had been worried about the 9-mile stretch of road through Olympic National Park bordering Lake Crescent since John first mentioned 101. If you’ve ever driven it, it is curvy with limited sight lines, no shoulder, lots of logging trucks, and recreational vehicles. Also it has a spectacular view that is too hard to look at because you are busy paying attention to the road. By bike, it turns out it was quite the opposite!
At either end, bikes are encouraged to activate a signal that includes 1-hour of a flashing light on a “bikes on roadway” sign.
DSCN0488
On a Wednesday afternoon, the cars usually gave a good buffer while passing, there were limited RVs, and most of the logging trucks were going the other direction. There was a pullout every mile or so that was easy to pull over and look around for a minute, something I wouldn’t do in a car.
DSCN0500 DSCN0503

Continue reading